Striking A Balance

This weekend I was in Seattle with a dear friend and we were discussing our life situations and that basically, neither one of us is entirely content with our respective situations.  There were various aspects that we discussed but one that we touched one that I am interested in is a balance of “input” vs. “output” as we phrased it.

I will skip the details of how we got to the discussion but, want to expand upon it some.  By input we were generally referencing the fact that, in our current situations, we read, a lot.  I personally have about 5 different books going right now and my friend probably has something similar.  We both take in a lot of information constantly in an effort to escape probably and to simply be learning in ways we do not get to do regularly during the week.  We end up with a problem though.

Namely, that problem is that we get lost in simply receiving information.  We get stuck in our own heads.  That ends up making us feel worse, possibly simply accepting the situation we are in without trying to affect change in it.

Then there are the “outputs” which, in essence, are creative activities which help us to end up with something at the end.  Mine is writing specifically, my friend is interested in writing more but does not do it as much.  Other things would be such as some other endeavors I want to pursue but have not yet along with goals for more physical pursuits of fitness etc. that we are both pursuing.

Another example would be the fact that both of us spent probably an hour in a book store trying to solve some of those puzzles that one can get as brain teasers the towers of Hanoi ring puzzle type.  Although these puzzles do end up leading to a “solution” I would argue that they are very poor outputs since they are not “creative” in the sense of being something original created by the person performing the puzzle.

One thing that both of us have fallen into though is being out of balance in these inputs and outputs.  We have a lot of input, insofar as we are constantly trying to find things to learn and be stimulated in somewhat fulfilling ways.  But, we do not have much in the form of friend networks or creative pursuits to have the outputs side.  As such, we end up not having a balance of learning and creating which leaves us feeling less empowered to make changes that we need to do for having more fulfilling lives.

Expanding on this idea: think about all of the entertainment we have now in the form of internet and TV specifically; what if part of our general discomfort comes from being out of balance in a similar way.  We end up watching a lot of TV, a lot of videos, reading a lot of articles but not everyone creates things after that.  What would happen if more individuals ended up creating more to balance out all of the things they are receiving from external sources?  Would it lead to more empowerment to engage with various parts of life?

Not Enough Knowledge To Fully Support

It appears that Western philosophical thought is plagued by a constant dichotomy in basically every issue.  Due to my philosophical focus in school this is what I will be looking at with more detail and ever-so-slightly more knowledge.

These two lines of philosophical thought are far, far from being clear-cut like I am hoping to draw out here but I think that this is an undefined undercurrent that can be found within philosophical though.  These two branches are the Rationalist (not necessarily in any usual philosophical sense of the term) and then a group that is much harder to name.  I want to use Reasonable just for entertainment and to be confusing but that is not the best term for this other line, for now I’ll just call it the Other for clarity.

So, these two branches, the Rationalist and the Other branch.  I want to put down a really quick sketch of the thinkers and how I categorize some of them.  Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas (pretty much all famous early Christian theologians to my knowledge), Descartes and Kant are all members of the Rationalist branch.  See why that name works so well for this group?  They really strongly push for logic and trying to make everything as clear-cut as possible and try to argue for some sort of bigger thing out in the universe which is truth, justice, God…etc. etc.  These are the people who try to figure out what are the underlying laws in nature and the universe. If you know the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance this idea of underlying laws/forms is known to you.

The Other branch has Xenophon, Emerson, Nietzsche in my opinion, due to my philosophical training those are some of the only writers I have studied well enough to feel pretty sure about my placement.  This Other branch appears to focus more on how to live as a person, not the universal laws of nature or anything to that affect, just how to actually live a life worth living, remembering, enjoying.

These two branches seem to float through the entire history of Western thought, at least in my limited knowledge of philosophical and legal traditions.  Yet I have only run into one professor who seemed willing to acknowledge this dichotomy directly.  The rest of the professors I’ve had seem to simply want to focus on the Rationalist group and ignore the rest as much as possible.

… hmmm, sounds like analytic philosophers to me…..

Pot-shots and generalizations aside, I do see this in my limited scope of knowledge yet no serious teaching has been done on this subject it seems like professors and academics would simply prefer not to talk about this subject and I am curious as to why they hold this opinion.  Something like this seems like it could be kind of important for philosophical discussion and it would be useful to me as a student to simply help fill in another part of my education.  I thought we were supposed to become “well-rounded” through undergraduate education and this is why all of those pointless general education requirements are set, yet there is this entire Other side of thought that never seems to be discussed.  How in the world can I be well-rounded without this side too?

If the world would leave me alone to study for a while I’d probably be much more knowledgeable and able to back this up in a more thorough manner, but until then I’ll just have to moonlight as the Other branch with the day job of Rationalist.